Or how this was not any hopes how they made this claim and they kept this claim and they died holding to this claim that Jesus is Alive and because of these things and so much more we can put our faith in the story of Jesus. But today we're going to talk about the rest of the story because it's possible to know the story and not be changed by it's possible to know part of the story but not feel that it's very compelling before. I became a minister. I worked with a guy and I'll call him Eddie cuz I don't have his permission to tell the story and said he's probably not even listening that I had just you know, I don't tell anybody stories unless you give me permission to tell them so your stories are are safe with me and I will always ask for permission or I will tell them anonymously, but any was not a Christian Eddie had a a difficult time. He was a guy that work with me and he struggled with alcoholism. He struggled with lots of different things. Very smart bright person. I cared about Eddie a lot and at work. You aren't really supposed to talk about religion, but there are times when when we could and times when we break the subject and so we we were talking about it and I asked him if he knew what what Christians believe it turns out Eddie grew up in church and Eddie could recite textbook exactly who Jesus claim to be and exactly what he did dying for us on the cross and he could tell the story about how three days later he rose from the dead established church and how he rescinded to heaven and he could tell me all of those things and he knew the story, but did he really know? All of the story do you?
Because the reality is if you don't know all of a store you can walk away with a very skewed perspective on what a story is all about. And I'm sorry to do this. I'm going to bring up some painful memories from some of your childhood. But an example of this is the movie Old Yeller.
That's a feel-good movie, isn't it? Wonderful know some of you haven't seen Old Yeller. You have no idea what I'm talking about. So let me just say this 90% of the story of Old Yeller is kind of positive and and and fun. It's about a young boy growing up on the frontier in Texas. I believe it is and he has this dog that comes to him one day and forms of bond with Old Yeller in this dog protect him and his family from all sorts of animals and creatures. And so you think man, it's just good wholesome Pioneer fun until the end when that same dog gets rabies. And what do you have to do with a dog in the frontier who gets rabies? You have to shoot that dog and Travis the main character in the story in the last 10 or 15 minutes of the movie goes and shoots a dog and some of you are still traumatized by that, aren't you? No, I am. If you just saw the first hour of this movie. And you didn't see the end. You didn't see how the story plays out. You didn't see all of it. You walk away with a very different perspective on the story when you and it's the same with the story of the Gospel. Because we talked about last week what Jesus did but we didn't really talk a lot about why he did it. Why did Jesus died why did he rise from the dead? Why did he do the things that he did, you know, we talked about how Jesus achieved a victory over sin and death. The people who are skeptical look around and say hey people still send all the time. And people still die every single day. So what good is that for you and me what difference does that make on the way that we live our lives today? If I were to go around the room if I were go around the country and pull different people people who grown up in church. I'm willing to bet that there is one answer that I would get as to why Jesus came why he did these things and what difference it makes to you and me and the answer would be so that we can one day die and go to heaven. Now, that's true. The Bible does talk about heaven. And it does talk about eternal Rewards. But that's not the whole story.
Because you see I think some of the reason that people don't find Heaven compelling is one because they misunderstand heaven. When people picture heaven today, I think they picture Tom and Jerry heaven. Tom and Jerry haven't you know, the story were Tom or Jerry will die then they float up to the clouds and they're sitting there sucking on a heart floating on a cloud with angels wings and that's that's kind of what we think we're going to do that forever. Wow, that's exciting, isn't it? But Heaven is so much more than that. And it's a little beyond the scope that we have today, so I don't have to go into it. But I just want to give you one quote or one thought or idea to talk to you about how amazing Heaven is going to be. There's an old feel ocean by the name of August in St. Augustine is is movie called and he had an experience one day where is looking out at nature and I don't know if you've ever been out in nature somewhere. You've been out near the ocean are you've been near a mountain or seen something? It's just so breathtakingly beautiful that you're just like in all of this creation that God has made and you see this is the god that we serve a God who can do these things and you feel really small and insignificant of those moments and you're just amazed they got had one of these experiences and he said that she said if these are the beauty that God of for the sinful men, What must God has prepared for those who love him he was saying this weird throat, we're fallen and broken world. But God has given us these pictures of majesty and glory and Beauty. Can you imagine that's what he's thinking you imagine what heaven is going to be like in the Bible says no eye has seen no ear has heard no heart is understood the things that God has prepared for those who love him. So if you're not excited about heaven you should be because it's going to be amazingly wonderful anything past anything that you can imagine but here's the second problem. I think that people have with this idea of we're going to die and go to heaven Sunday. What are we doing till then? Because for some of us that's a long way off, right? I remember being a teenager and in thinking I don't want to go to heaven yet because they're still so much of life that I haven't experienced and for me as a teenager, I remember Heaven being the idea of a one day. I'm going to get married and that's going to be having one day. I'm going to to get this job and career and will be successful and everybody's going to love me and that's going to be Heaven one day. I'm going to have this or that or the other and that's going to be Heaven. How did that work out? For those of you who experienced that and looking at it on the other side now, I'm ready to go to heaven. I am I've seen what this world has to offer in and there are some good things that God has blessed us with but there are also many bad things and heart aches and pains and in heaven all of those things that what I want. I want to spare my kids the pain of those things I want and I don't want to experience those things if I don't have to and so Heaven is good, but What is heaven a what what are we doing until then? Because do we just now get our our golden ticket to heaven and do we sit on the Pew and do we wait until we die and that's all that we do. I find it interesting. If you read the sermons that are preached in the early church, especially in the book of Acts. They're not preaching this idea of get saved now so that you don't go to hell that you're going to have in one day. That's not the message that they preach they talk about salvation. Yes, and they talk about being saved from God's judgment and his wrath and they talk about being saved from your sins being forgiven of your sins. But there's a story in Acts chapter 5 where the disciples I've actually been put in jail for preaching this message. And it's overnight the same he Turner conferring of what they're going to do the next day and an angel comes and let's these Apostles out of prison and tells them this act chapter 5 verse 20. Here's what it says. He says go stand in the temple courts, so they just been in the temple courts and they been arrested in the assist us go stand in the temple course, he said and tell the people all about this new life. This new life and the idea of that new life is not this new life in Heaven someday. What is New Life some far-off time in the future? But it is a new life that can be experienced and that can be lived now.
I want to say that again. It's not this new life that can be experience someday in the far off future. But it's a new life that can begin to be experienced the moment that you give your life to Jesus Christ the moment that you turn your life over to him. The Bible says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come you can have a new life.
You say you don't have to wait until you die to start experiencing heaven. Because God through his Spirit living inside of you can give you taste of heaven right here. Now some of you maybe maybe there's somebody here who is not a Christian and you kind of scoff at that idea of Christians having a new life because because you say, Christians I know Christians and they don't seem to be any different than me. They don't do anything different than me. They do all the same stuff that I do. The only difference is they feel guilty and and we can all have knowledge that. There are Christians like that out there right Christians who don't live in the light live in the new life that God has called us to I get that.
I don't want to say this that. the reality of Christianity is so much more. Then just saying oh, well, I'm a broken down Center and I'm in perfect and I'm just always going to be that way.
The reality of a Christian is that when you become a Christian that God wants to change you. And there's this idea that's in our culture and I'll tell you where probably where it comes from in a minute. Residing in a culture that you can be a Christian and you can go out and do whatever you want to do. You can say ah what the lord loves me. Anyway, he does. He does. Love you anyway. But living that way you're missing out on the rest of the story that God has called you to live out on. Andy Stanley famously says it this way if you're if that's your idea of Christianity that I just don't want to screw up but I keep screwing up and I'm just going to stop screwing up and you're just looking back on this this life and I just don't want to go back there again, but you still mess up time and time again. He says that's not Christianity that's country music. What Christianity that's country music? I think he's right. I mean everything about it. Here's some lyrics I'm a long gone Waylon song on vinyl. I'm a back row Center at a Big Tent Revival, but she believes in me like she believes her Bible and Loves Me Like Jesus Does. Hey, I heard Jesus. He drank wine. Not that we get along just fine. He can calm the storm and heal the blind I bet he'd understand a heart like mine. That sounds may have some truth in it, but that's not the whole truth. That's not the whole story. It is true that God loves you as you are, but here is the rest of the truth. Would you click on that side? God loves you. Jesus loves you as you are, but he loves you too much to leave you that way. Here's the problem with that idea. Is that you can say I am a Christian and continue to hurt people you can say I'm a Christian and continue to make a mess of your life. And God doesn't want that for you. He wants better for you because he loves you and he calls all of us to live in the ways that he has called us to live it to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. This is what he wants for his children. This is the rest of the story. But how do we get there?
Because if you're like me you recognize if it's a struggle. If you're like me, you know that you want to change but that change is not easy. The reality is that we need to stop living just to stay away from where we've been. And we need to start living for what God has called us to live for do you see the difference in math? If you're living just to stay away from where you've been you're always going to stay either right where you are or you're going to go back. But God has called us to move forward to something else and I want to point you all into that right direction this morning so that we can begin to live out the rest of the story. If you have not already in to do this, we're going to look at the writings of the Apostle Paul. We're going to look at what he says at the beginning of his letter to the church in Philippine. It says this in chapter 1 verse 3 and 6 Paul Wright. I thank my God every time I remember you in all my prayers for all of you. I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now noticed when he says next to being confident is Paul says, I'm confident. It's something he's riding to church the established. He's riding to church that he's not there. But he says if I'm confident of this the sea god who began a good work in you Will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion in Christ Jesus. Will you go back to that that previous Legend while I think to look at this verse with me for a second. We just ask yourself this question. What is Christianity? What did Jesus do for us on the cross? What did he do when he rose from the dead? He began a work in US. Often times we treat Christianity just like it's any other religion and so religions. Yeah, they they give you these rules and so you keep these rules. And if you do these rules you make yourself acceptable to God and if you don't then you're not acceptable to God that is not what Christianity is. It's not about the work that you do. It's about the work that God does in you is it you cannot change yourself? You cannot fix yourself. You can't fix what's broken within you. You cannot change your desires. You cannot change these things on your own. There is only one hope that we have of experiencing this new life. And it's in the work that Christ does in us, but what what do we do? Do we have any say any part in this I believe that we do. And the reality is that we begin to have faith in the work that God is doing in us and we learned to participate with him in that work to rely on him and Trust on him and that is when we begin to change. Many of you know that I have a cute little 19 month old who runs around here a 20 month old. Now, I think she is named Cross. And cross is a joy to be around most all of the time. But when you try to change her. I'm talking about change her diaper change her outfit change anything that she's doing that she doesn't want you to do. She can make it a living nightmare. I change dirty diapers and she's up and running off with stuff. Just trailing behind her.
Try to change your outfit and she just starts kicking her legs and you can't get in you get finally get one one leg on her leg and you go to get the other one and she's got the other one off already and she's just I'm trying to change you kid. I'm trying to make you I'm trying to get you presentable. I'm trying to do this and you are not working with me at all. I wonder if God looks at us sometimes that way. And God said look, I'm trying to work in your life.
But you see we would rather got change our circumstances then he changeups, right? We would rather God fix other people not not fix ice.
We would rather God. work on the externals
rather than work on what's going on here?
And so what we do often? Is we take things that the Bible calls sin? We trivialize it.
We take things that the Bible calls send things that Jesus died for things that Jesus died for that's how serious got view sin. And we were labeled it a struggle.
And we nurse that struggle and we hold on to that struggle rather than turning it over to him and ask him to be released for it because the truth is it's kind of like that that security blanket. We we hold on to that struggle. That's just a part of Who We Are
we do that instead of repenting of that sin. And turning it over and trying to change and all the while God is saying I'm trying to change you and I'm working on it and God will work on you and he will get your attention if you are his but it's going to come and paint. It's going to come at consequence at some point in time.
We need to partner with him. We need to work in him in this. What kind of change that was God trying to make in your life in my life? Paul continues to ride in verse 9 who sings this And this is my prayer.
But those of you who are sick will be healed in Jesus name. And this is my prayer.
But that boss of yours who was a jerk would just get a heart attack and died. This is my prayer. That all of your problems would just magically disappear. Somebody praise is it so we pray. In fact, I'm going to show you that we pray a lot differently than the Apostle Paul prayed. This is this this is my prayer that your love may abound more and more the hold it on this site for taking your love may abound more and more in knowledge in depth of inside. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever prayed for your love?
Your pride for your love you pray for other people to love you.
If you ever prayed for your love. All says that you're loved me about more and more knowledge of types of inside so that you may be able to discern what is best for your understanding and your knowledge of Christ and his relationship to us when we get what he's come to you may be able to discern what is best and maybe pure and blameless for the day of Christ. Our love has something to do with this and Paul is not just praying for love in this letter. In fact, you will find evidence of this in almost every letter that he ever wrote take this example from Ephesians. He's praying for the efficient search. I pray that out of his God the glory a straight rich is he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit scuse me in your inner being I pray it was continued. He says so that Christ May dwell in your hearts through faith, and I pray that you being rooted and established in what in love may have power together with all the Lord's holy people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and To know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of god. Let's continue on in the book of Colossians. He says this we always think God the father of our Lord Jesus Christ when we pray for you, why because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God's people continue on 1st Thessalonians. We thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. He says we remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith your labor prompted by what by love and your endurance inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus Christ and 2nd Thessalonians. We ought always to thank God for you Brother 2 sisters and rightly. So because your faith is growing more and more and the love all of you have is for one. Another is increasing. How did Paul recognize that things were going good in a church when the love that you have for one another when that was increasing that was the change the guy was were Also in Philemon, this is the last one. I always think my God is I remember you in my prayers because I care about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus Paul talk about love Paul focused on love if you remember 1st Corinthians 13 faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love What kind of change is God trying to make any what was Jesus trying to do? Damon's got a great class on Sunday mornings where you talked about this last week where he said that trying to change us to make us more like Jesus. What was Jesus? What did he do when he was on this Earth he loved He loves so deeply and so passionately that he was willing to die. Even for those who weren't willing to love him. This is the kind of change that God is wanting to make in your life and it's the change that he's wanting to make in my life. It is the love the fruit of the spirit of God working within you. UC
We often try. to change yourself by fixing herself But that doesn't work. Why. Because we're focused on yourself. You can't change yourself. Fix yourself because you're focusing on yourself and yourself is the problem.
Say it again. Your self is the problem. That's why Jesus would say whoever wants to come after me and be my disciple must what deny yourself.
everyday that I wake up
have a choice to make so do you and if your Christian it is a choice that you can make because God empowers us to the Holy Spirit to make this choice.
I can live. for me
or I can love others.
And the truth is that one of those is going to win out.
One of those going to win out.
And oftentimes yet. You see when we pray we pray for God to fix our circumstances. I'm not saying don't pray for that because we should. Pray for healing and pray for circumcised. But you also need to pray that God would do a work in you so that you can face whatever he has for you in that day and to face it with love. Did respond not with bitterness and resentment and anger and revenge and unforgiveness, but to respond with love if you did that in your relationships, would that be better or worse? Probably be better. I'm not saying that this can fix everything and every problem that's going on in your life. I'm not naive enough to to even begin to suggest that but I can't say this that if you were living in Walking In Love than you're not going to make that problem worse.
It makes you wonder when you go back to the gospels and in recognize it that's not trying and Jesus to call us to follow a bunch of rules who were the people who were against Jesus. They were the real followers weren't they? They were the ones who were trying to do this and do that and do that in the other. What did Jesus say Jesus said that it's by the way that you love others. If you love others the way that I love you. This is how the whole world is going to know that you're my disciples ask. What's the greatest command? Jesus said love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your mind with all your strength yourself and love your neighbor as yourself because this sums up all the law and the prophets. This is exactly what Jesus was trying to do to make us people of love.
Because at the end of the day God doesn't need another rule follower.
But you know, what's really cool about this. that when you begin Living For Love when that begins to be your focus instead of all, I just want to stay away and not do anything bad.
But when your focus in life is I want to love others and I want to do good to others.
When your focus on other people you make mess up less of a mess of things, don't you? When you made the biggest mistake or the biggest mess of your life, who were you focused on? Lisa Frank
but when you live for love
that begins to take the place of all of those other things that you used to live for. And all of a sudden you don't have to worry about whether or not you're going back there because that takes such a small place in your life that you're busy doing. The Lord's work. You busy doing other things. No matter whether it's in your family or in your job or anywhere else. You see what God wants to do with his people. If he wants to not only make us better followers of him, but he wants to make us better fathers and mothers. Better wives and husbands better Sons and Daughters better sisters and brothers better friends better bosses better employees better co-workers because it's in the way that we relate to other that's that's that's where his light begins to shine through.
It so yes, we can celebrate the fact that Jesus is Alive and that is the Catalyst for all of this. But this is what it's for. You see we continue the story of Jesus to this very day. It's because the spirit of Christ is living within a and it works and it reaches out and it touches every single person that we meet and when we do this
When we do this, we live out the rest. story we stay with the church.
I want to briefly just give you a two two takeaways.
first take away is this I said before that you cannot change yourself. the Stroop can't It so if you want to experience that change and that new life, there is only one way. There's only one place. It's found its in Christ Jesus and how do you get in Christ Jesus?
Some of you need to get baptized. Some of you need to be baptized into Christ. Because it's there that we've got a new crush. It's there. We put our faith in Christ. It's there when we do those things. And where God begins to do his work in us this change takes time.
Like I said, I can't cover. This is a huge subject and it only takes place. I can't cover it all in just a few of the few minutes that we have this morning.
But for those of you who have been baptized and maybe you're struggling with change struggling to it to be a part of what God's doing in your life. I want to encourage you to come on Sunday mornings at 9:45. The set your alarm just an hour earlier and come to hear diamonds class because that's what he's talking about. And he's going way more in-depth on how we change. It's been very helpful for me. And I know it's been helpful. I've Heard lots of feedback from everybody who who is in it? And God is speaking and he's working through this class and then I don't want you to miss out on that.
If you haven't been baptized if you haven't placed your faith in Christ, and you want to experience that new life you want to experience that today you can you can come forward.
If you have you want to grow more and more in the truth is we will always be able to grow more and more. Nobody has arrived yet. Nobody has reached Jesus status.
And we won't during this lifetime.
But you can get closer. And the closer you are the better. you'll be
Max going to come up and he's going to sing one song and then we'll be dismissed if you're here today and you need prayer for anything. I invite you to come forward the elders and I will be here to receive you. I'm glad to see all of you this morning. Love you all may the Lord bless and keep you.